Florida Man Arrested on Biological Weapons Charges

(FBI) Robert K. Cromwell, Special Agent in Charge of the Jacksonville Division of the FBI, announced the arrest on Wednesday, January 12, of Steven Michael Ekberg, 22, of Ocala, Florida.

Ekberg was arrested without incident at approximately 7:00 p.m. Wednesday at his home in the 7600 block of SW 10th Street, Ocala. He was charged with possession of a biological agent in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Ocala earlier Wednesday afternoon. His initial appearance is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon at the U.S. Courthouse in Ocala.

The arrest is the result of an investigation that began late last week and was conducted jointly by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, and the FBI. During the course of the investigation, a search was conducted of Ekberg’s residence. Inside the residence, agents and officers discovered substances that later tested positive for the presence of ricin, a lethal toxin derived from the castor bean. Personnel from the FBI’s Tampa Field Office and the FBI Laboratory in Virginia, who are specially trained in hazardous materials response, conducted a sweep of the residence Wednesday evening, ensuring that all biological agents had been removed and that there was no danger to the surrounding community.

Although the investigation is continuing, there is currently no known link between Ekberg and any groups or organizations having terrorist or extremist ideologies.

If convicted, Ekberg faces criminal penalties that include up to 10 years to life in prison. As always, however, a criminal complaint is simply a formal charge. Defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in court.